15 U.S. Code § 7201 - Definitions

Except as otherwise specifically provided in this Act, in this Act, the following definitions shall apply:
(1) Appropriate State regulatory authority

The term “appropriate State regulatory authority” means the State agency or other authority responsible for the licensure or other regulation of the practice of accounting in the State or States having jurisdiction over a registered public accounting firm or associated person thereof, with respect to the matter in question.

(2) Audit

The term “audit” means an examination of the financial statements of any issuer by an independent public accounting firm in accordance with the rules of the Board or the Commission (or, for the period preceding the adoption of applicable rules of the Board under section 7213 of this title, in accordance with then-applicable generally accepted auditing and related standards for such purposes), for the purpose of expressing an opinion on such statements.

(3) Audit committeeThe term “audit committee” means—
a committee (or equivalent body) established by and amongst the board of directors of an issuer for the purpose of overseeing the accounting and financial reporting processes of the issuer and audits of the financial statements of the issuer; and
if no such committee exists with respect to an issuer, the entire board of directors of the issuer.
(4) Audit reportThe term “audit report” means a document or other record—
prepared following an audit performed for purposes of compliance by an issuer with the requirements of the securities laws; and
(B) in which a public accounting firm either—
sets forth the opinion of that firm regarding a financial statement, report, or other document; or
asserts that no such opinion can be expressed.
(5) Board

The term “Board” means the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board established under section 7211 of this title.

(6) Commission

The term “Commission” means the Securities and Exchange Commission.

(7) Issuer

The term “issuer” means an issuer (as defined in section 78c of this title), the securities of which are registered under section 78l of this title, or that is required to file reports under section 78o(d) of this title, or that files or has filed a registration statement that has not yet become effective under the Securities Act of 1933 (15 U.S.C. 77a et seq.), and that it has not withdrawn.

(8) Non-audit services

The term “non-audit services” means any professional services provided to an issuer by a registered public accounting firm, other than those provided to an issuer in connection with an audit or a review of the financial statements of an issuer.

(9) Person associated with a public accounting firm
(A) In generalThe terms “person associated with a public accounting firm” (or with a “registered public accounting firm”) and “associated person of a public accounting firm” (or of a “registered public accounting firm”) mean any individual proprietor, partner, shareholder, principal, accountant, or other professional employee of a public accounting firm, or any other independent contractor or entity that, in connection with the preparation or issuance of any audit report—
shares in the profits of, or receives compensation in any other form from, that firm; or
participates as agent or otherwise on behalf of such accounting firm in any activity of that firm.
(B) Exemption authority

The Board may, by rule, exempt persons engaged only in ministerial tasks from the definition in subparagraph (A), to the extent that the Board determines that any such exemption is consistent with the purposes of this Act, the public interest, or the protection of investors.

(C) Investigative and enforcement authorityFor purposes of sections 7202(c), 7211(c), 7215, and 7217(c) of this title and the rules of the Board and Commission issued thereunder, except to the extent specifically excepted by such rules, the terms defined in subparagraph (A) shall include any person associated, seeking to become associated, or formerly associated with a public accounting firm, except that—
the authority to conduct an investigation of such person under section 7215(b) of this title shall apply only with respect to any act or practice, or omission to act, by the person while such person was associated or seeking to become associated with a registered public accounting firm; and
(ii) the authority to commence a disciplinary proceeding under section 7215(c)(1) of this title, or impose sanctions under section 7215(c)(4) of this title, against such person shall apply only with respect to—
conduct occurring while such person was associated or seeking to become associated with a registered public accounting firm; or
non-cooperation, as described in section 7215(b)(3) of this title, with respect to a demand in a Board investigation for testimony, documents, or other information relating to a period when such person was associated or seeking to become associated with a registered public accounting firm.
(10) Professional standardsThe term “professional standards” means—
(A) accounting principles that are—
established by the standard setting body described in section 19(b) of the Securities Act of 1933 [15 U.S.C. 77s(b)], or prescribed by the Commission under section 19(a) of that Act [15 U.S.C. 77s(a)] or section 78m(b) of this title; and
relevant to audit reports for particular issuers, or dealt with in the quality control system of a particular registered public accounting firm; and
(B) auditing standards, standards for attestation engagements, quality control policies and procedures, ethical and competency standards, and independence standards (including rules implementing title II) that the Board or the Commission determines—
relate to the preparation or issuance of audit reports for issuers; and
are established or adopted by the Board under section 7213(a) of this title, or are promulgated as rules of the Commission.
(11) Public accounting firmThe term “public accounting firm” means—
a proprietorship, partnership, incorporated association, corporation, limited liability company, limited liability partnership, or other legal entity that is engaged in the practice of public accounting or preparing or issuing audit reports; and
to the extent so designated by the rules of the Board, any associated person of any entity described in subparagraph (A).
(12) Registered public accounting firm

The term “registered public accounting firm” means a public accounting firm registered with the Board in accordance with this Act.

(13) Rules of the Board

The term “rules of the Board” means the bylaws and rules of the Board (as submitted to, and approved, modified, or amended by the Commission, in accordance with section 7217 of this title), and those stated policies, practices, and interpretations of the Board that the Commission, by rule, may deem to be rules of the Board, as necessary or appropriate in the public interest or for the protection of investors.

(14) Security

The term “security” has the same meaning as in section 78c(a) of this title.

(15) Securities laws

The term “securities laws” means the provisions of law referred to in section 78c(a)(47) of this title and includes the rules, regulations, and orders issued by the Commission thereunder.

(16) State

The term “State” means any State of the United States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, or any other territory or possession of the United States.

(17) Foreign auditor oversight authority

The term “foreign auditor oversight authority” means any governmental body or other entity empowered by a foreign government to conduct inspections of public accounting firms or otherwise to administer or enforce laws related to the regulation of public accounting firms.

(Pub. L. 107–204, § 2(a), July 30, 2002, 116 Stat. 746; Pub. L. 111–203, title IX, §§ 929F(g)(1), 981(a), 982(a)(2), July 21, 2010, 124 Stat. 1854, 1926, 1928.)
References in Text

This Act, referred to in text, is Pub. L. 107–204, July 30, 2002, 116 Stat. 745, known as the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002. For complete classification of this Act to the Code, see Tables.

The Securities Act of 1933, referred to in par. (7), is title I of act May 27, 1933, ch. 38, 48 Stat. 74, which is classified generally to subchapter I (§ 77a et seq.) of chapter 2A of this title. For complete classification of this Act to the Code, see section 77a of this title and Tables.

Title II, referred to in par. (10)(B), means title II of Pub. L. 107–204, July 30, 2002, 116 Stat. 771, which enacted subchapter II of this chapter and amended sections 78c, 78j–1, 78l and 78q of this title. For complete classification of title II to the Code, see Tables.


2010—Pub. L. 111–203, § 982(a)(2), substituted “Except as otherwise specifically provided in this Act, in this” for “In this” in introductory provisions.

Par. (9)(C). Pub. L. 111–203, § 929F(g)(1), added subpar. (C).

Par. (17). Pub. L. 111–203, § 981(a), added par. (17).

Effective Date of 2010 Amendment

Amendment by Pub. L. 111–203 effective 1 day after July 21, 2010, except as otherwise provided, see section 4 of Pub. L. 111–203, set out as an Effective Date note under section 5301 of Title 12, Banks and Banking.

Short Title

Pub. L. 107–204, § 1(a), July 30, 2002, 116 Stat. 745, provided that:

“This Act [see Tables for classification] may be cited as the ‘Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002’.”
GAO Study and Report Regarding Consolidation of Public Accounting Firms

Pub. L. 107–204, title VII, § 701, July 30, 2002, 116 Stat. 797, directed the Comptroller General, in consultation with the Commission, regulatory agencies in other countries of the Group of Seven Industrialized Nations, the Justice Department, and others, to study the factors resulting in the consolidation of public accounting firms and their impact, and to report the study findings to Congress not later than 1 year after July 30, 2002.

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